This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Shawn Edward Evans,
Benton County District Court
File No. 05-CR-06-306
Mike Hatch, Attorney General,
Robert J. Raupp, Benton County Attorney, Karl L. Schmidt, Assistant County Attorney, Benton County Courthouse, 615 Highway 23, Foley, MN 56329 (for appellant)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3097; and
Nyvold, Assistant Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*
This case arises from a March 2005 stabbing in Sauk Rapids that led to a first-degree assault criminal complaint against respondent Shawn Evans. As the trial date approached, the state dismissed the criminal complaint to give itself more time to secure additional evidence, then it refiled the complaint five months later. The district court included the period between the dismissal and refiling in its speedy-trial analysis and therefore concluded that the state had violated Evans’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. The state appeals the district court’s order dismissing its refiled criminal complaint. Because we conclude that the district court erred in its speedy-trial analysis by including the time between the state’s dismissal and refiling of the complaint, we reverse.
Police investigators believe that Shawn Evans stabbed Michael Brunelle in the neck during a March 18, 2005 altercation at an apartment in Sauk Rapids. A witness informed police that Evans had stabbed Brunelle. Police arrested Evans at his residence in the early morning hours that same day. During the arrest, police observed a substance that they believed to be blood on Evans’s pants. They also found a knife, covered in what appeared to be blood, in a dumpster near the apartment. Evans admitted to police that he stabbed Brunelle in the neck while the two were fighting. He claimed that he picked up a knife that Brunelle had dropped and that Brunelle started punching him. Evans allegedly then swung at Brunelle, stabbing him in the neck. Brunelle told police that it was Evans who pulled the knife, that they engaged in a physical scuffle, and that, immediately unbeknownst to Brunelle, Evans stabbed him during the altercation. Brunelle’s injury required a five-hour surgery.
Three days later the state filed a criminal complaint in district court, charging Evans with assault in the first degree. Evans could not post bond and remained incarcerated. On April 22, 2005, Evans moved to suppress his statement to police in which he admitted stabbing Brunelle. At an omnibus hearing on July 8, 2005, Evans pleaded not guilty and, for the first time, demanded a speedy trial. His attorney requested and received additional time to file supporting caselaw, which she did not file until August 5. The court scheduled a jury trial to commence August 29, 2005. On Evans’s motion, the court reduced his bail. Evans posted bond and was released from jail on August 5, 2005, for the first time since his March 18 arrest.
On August 12, 2005, the state moved to compel Evans to submit a DNA sample. The state apparently wanted to compare Brunelle’s and Evans’s DNA with the blood on the knife and Evans’s pants, but the state had not yet submitted the knife and pants to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for forensic laboratory testing. At a settlement conference on August 18, the state moved to continue the trial because the DNA test results would not be available in time. The district court denied the state’s motion to continue but granted its motion for discovery of Evans’s DNA. The next day, the district court granted Evans’s motion to suppress his statement. On August 25, 48 days after Evans made his speedy trial demand, the state dismissed the charge but advised him on the record that it would refile the charge when the laboratory completed the DNA testing.
On February 3, 2006, the state provided Evans with notice that it had DNA evidence. The state filed a new complaint the next day, again charging Evans with assault in the first degree for the stabbing. Police took Evans into custody on February 7 but released him on February 9 after the court reinstated the bond that he had posted on the charge in the dismissed complaint. On February 17, Evans moved the district court to dismiss the newly filed complaint because the state violated his right to a speedy trial. The district court granted Evans’s motion to dismiss the complaint, determining that the delay denied Evans’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. The state’s appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
The state challenges the district court’s determination that it denied Evans a speedy trial under the federal and state constitutions. Determining whether a defendant has been denied the right to a speedy trial necessarily involves the district court’s discretion, State v. Friberg, 435 N.W.2d 509, 512-15 (Minn. 1989), but the determination is a question of constitutional law, which we review de novo, State v. Cham, 680 N.W.2d 121, 124 (Minn. App. 2004), review denied (Minn. July 20, 2004).
The federal and
To determine whether a delay
deprived the accused of the right to a speedy trial,
Length of Delay
Evans urges the court to include the interim delay of five months between dismissal of the first complaint and the filing of the second when measuring the length of the delay. We decline to do so because without some evidence of bad faith on the part of the state—which Evans does not allege, the district court did not find, and the record does not suggest—this period does not factor into the speedy-trial calculation.
The Sixth Amendment’s speedy
trial clause “has no application after the [g]overnment, acting in good faith,
formally drops charges.”
The Minnesota Rules of
Criminal Procedure provide for a speedy trial and define a reasonable time for
bringing a defendant to trial. These
rules require that a defendant “be tried within sixty (60) days from the date
of the demand unless good cause is shown . . . why the defendant
should not be brought to trial within that period.”
Evans points to State v. Kasper, 411 N.W.2d 182, 184 (
Even excluding the dismissal period, Evans satisfies the presumption that a violation of his right to a speedy trial has occurred. Evans did not make a speedy-trial demand until July 8, 2005. Evans therefore had to be brought to trial within 60 days of the demand, or by September 6, 2005. When the state dismissed the complaint on August 25, only 48 days had passed. Between the filing of the second complaint on February 4 and Evans’s filing of the motion to dismiss on February 17, another 13 days passed, for a total of 61 days. This delay beyond 60 days barely, but sufficiently, creates a presumption of prejudice and leads us to apply Barker’s other factors.
Reason for the Delay
We next consider the
legitimacy of the reason for the delay. This
factor is closely related to the previous factor, particularly in this case.
The bulk of this delay cannot be attributed to the state. The delay between the arrest on March 18, 2005, and the omnibus hearing on April 29, 2005, arose from Evans’s request for the omnibus hearing and the district court’s scheduling limitations. The delay between the April 29 hearing and the continued July 8 hearing rests entirely on Evans’s decision at the April hearing to waive his demand for a speedy omnibus hearing. The delay between the July 8 and August 18 hearings is attributable entirely to Evans, whose attorney on July 8 requested time to submit additional caselaw and instead filed a formal memorandum nearly one month later, on August 5. The state filed its response within one week, on August 12, and the district court decided the disputed issues on August 19. The only delay attributable to the state arose from its intention to secure a DNA sample from Evans and to develop forensic evidence through laboratory testing, beginning in August 2005. The state concedes that its failure to begin developing this evidence sooner is “obvious negligence on its part.”
is this obvious negligence that Evans overemphasizes and on which the district
court primarily rested its determination that the state violated Evans’s right
to a speedy trial. The district court based its
decision in part on its understanding that “negligent delays are weighed heavily against the state.” But although the Supreme Court has noted that
a “deliberate attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper the defense should
be weighted heavily against the government,” the court has also recognized that
“[a] more neutral reason such as
negligence . . . should be weighted less heavily.” Barker,
Our supreme court has found that circumstances over which the state had no control have justified tolerable delays up to 14 months where, as here, the defendant has suffered no unfair prejudice. See Friberg 435 N.W.2d at 513-14 (citing cases in which court found speedy-trial violation despite delays ranging from six to fourteen months). We conclude that the state’s contribution to the delay was minor, its reason to gather evidence was legitimate, and, despite its negligence associated with the delay, this factor argues against a determination that the state violated Evans’s right to a speedy trail.
Assertion of Right to Speedy Trial
The force and frequency of a
defendant’s demand for trial must be considered in weighing the third factor,
and the strength of the demand will likely reflect the seriousness and extent
of any resulting prejudice.
Prejudice to the Defendant
The final factor of
prejudice should be measured in light of the interests that the speedy-trial
right was designed to protect. Barker, 407
With respect to the first interest, although Evans spent approximately four and one-half months in jail before he was able to post bond, the majority of that time was before his demand for a speedy trial and resulted from delays not attributable to the state. Evans spent only 28 days in jail after his demand until posting bond, another 7 days on a warrant due to his probation violation, and 2 days following the filing of the second complaint until his bond was reinstated, for a total of 37 days. This does not constitute oppressive pretrial incarceration on the serious charge that Evans faced.
In assessing anxiety and concern, the district court focused on the interim period between the dismissal of the first complaint and the filing of the second complaint, concluding that Evans suffered anxiety, concern, and financial hardship from the lingering potential charges. We do not doubt the district court’s reasonable finding that Evans was anxious and concerned. But for reasons already explained, this period does not factor into the speedy-trial analysis. The Supreme Court has emphasized this point:
Once charges are dismissed, the speedy trial guarantee is no longer applicable. At that point, the formerly accused is, at most, in the same position as any other subject of a criminal investigation. Certainly the knowledge of an ongoing criminal investigation will cause stress, discomfort, and perhaps a certain disruption in normal life. This is true whether or not charges have been filed and then dismissed. . . . Following dismissal of charges, any restraint on liberty, disruption of employment, strain on financial resources, and exposure to public obloquy, stress and anxiety is no greater than it is upon anyone openly subject to a criminal investigation.
In addressing the most
important interest, Evans has failed to demonstrate or even argue that his
defense of self-defense will be impaired by the delay. He emphasizes that he need not prove
prejudice. But “deprivation of the right
to speedy trial does not per se
prejudice [a defendant’s] ability to defend himself.” Barker,
In sum, the delay in this case is sufficient to raise a presumption of prejudice and to require further inquiry, but that inquiry does not support a determination that the state violated Evans’s right to a speedy trial. There is no evidence of any bad-faith effort on the part of the state to intentionally delay the trial or to hamper the defense.
We highlight that the
district court had a clear basis to focus on the most troublesome part of this
case, which is the state’s dismissal of the complaint after the court had
denied the state’s request for a continuance to develop and secure additional
evidence. The state essentially
fashioned its own continuance by unilaterally dismissing the complaint and refiling
it on its own schedule. This end-around
tactic avoided the consequence of the district court’s discretionary denial of
the state’s motion and is not a remedy contemplated by the rules. See
Because a de novo application of the Barker factors leads us to conclude that the district court erred in granting Evans’s motion to dismiss based on his right to a speedy trial, we reverse the district court’s order dismissing the complaint.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.